TV Tuesdays: The dark side of child stardom

By Gus Bode

“I Know My Kid’s A Star”


New episodes air 9 p.m. Thursday on VH1


2.5 out of 5 stars

The idea of a cute little child capturing audiences’ hearts with charm and innocence is a common one in Hollywood.

With child stars, such as Abigail Breslin, Freddie Highmore and Dakota Fanning, lighting up the silver screen with their talent, it’s difficult to comprehend the type of work, planning and sheer luck it took for those actors to become famous.

The latest VH1 reality program aims to show home audiences what it takes to be a child star, including the work, whines and parental egos.

“I Know My Kid’s A Star,” is hosted by former child star with a bad reputation, Danny Bonaduce, who starred as a child in the 1970s sitcom “The Partridge Family.” He pairs teams of child and parent against each other. The teams participate in competitions, such as voice acting for a cartoon and talent shows. The parent is evaluated on how well he manages his child when stress hits and his knowledge of the business, while the child supplies the talent.

Each week a team is eliminated from the show and the final team standing will earn $50,000.

The concept is an interesting one, and Bonaduce makes a good host with his tales of child stardom woes and his insight into the industry. He conveys his knowledge to the parents about how quickly a life of excess earned so young can spin out of control. But past that, little is shown during the program of those who know about what a child star’s life can be like, teaching parents what they need to know to keep their child from being another burned-out child star.


While it is engaging to watch 9-year-olds attempt to master acting and understand that they’ve chosen a life of hard work instead of playing with their friends, this show has turned the temper tantrum formulaic. At least one flip-out is present in every show from either a parent or child, and it is rarely handled well. Usually a parent verbally attacks another parent, the two scream for a while and then the conflict ends with an interview with one of the parents saying, “I hate (blah blah blah).”

On the surface “I Know My Kid’s A Star” tries to be an insightful show about talent, dedication and understanding the pitfalls for youth in Hollywood. At its core, it is merely a program where children go to be criticized, parents go to argue with other parents and voyeuristic audiences watch the blow-ups and tears.

It’s painful to see children criticized in unconstructive ways and usually behind their backs. Often the excuse of not having the “it” factor is used. Not only that, but VH1 seems to have mastered the ability to keep the most cutthroat and hated teams on its reality shows just to give them a little drama. One over-the-top mother regularly attacks the other parents and pressures her daughter beyond belief. But while she remains in the competition, seemingly levelheaded parents with talented children go home.

In the end audience members might find themselves wishing some playtime on these children instead of a career boost.

Alicia Wade can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected].